Get Into Reading is not only about reading great literature aloud and connecting through literature to one another, but also causes many profound personal connections to come to life. In any one week across the country, lots of fantastic ‘wow’ moments are being observed by The Reader Organisation’s Project Workers in Get Into Reading groups.
Here is one of those moments from Liz McGaw, Project Worker for Get Into Reading in the South West:
At the Yeovil Library Memory group we have been reading extracts from Cider with Rosie, with accompanying poems by Seamus Heaney, an unfamiliar poet to the group members. Sometimes faces are pulled when we read more ‘modern’ poets, and the group feels on unfamiliar territory.
Last week the group process beautifully illustrated the theory behind the Get Into Reading model, with the poem linking the feelings arising from the text, to an opening up and a shared understanding of the poems, which we would have otherwise found harder to reach.
We had puzzled over the lines at the end of Seamus Heaney’s poem Sunlight;
and here is love
Like a tinsmith’s scoop
Sunk past its gleam
In the meal bin
The group had been remembering people from their past, and all felt that ‘love’ was the most important word. One member of the group was accompanying his wife for the first time, and surprised both of them by expressing his understanding of the poem. She said, ‘Fifty years married, and I’ve learnt something new about my husband this afternoon’.
The following week we puzzled again over the last line of Heaney’s Personal Helicon. Like the previous week, all was clear until the last verse;
I rhyme To see myself, to set
The darkness echoing
What could it mean? There had been memories shared during the text of going down wells, going to the bottom and fishing around in the darkness, and remembering smells and textures.
We thought that the poet was writing to recall for himself and bring out his memories from the darkness, just as the group had done during the reading of the text. One man wrote in the comments book;
I didn’t realise how much of my childhood I can recall. Most edifying.
He had stopped us whilst we were reading to express his amazement at the variety of stories and memories the group had shared around the table, whilst reading Laurie Lee.
A collective understanding of this last verse was shared by everyone, as buried memories echoed around the table, and my image of the previous weeks poem was of a hand plunging into a bran tub ‘like a tinsmith’s scoop’ and bringing out a hidden prize.
We read again, ‘I rhyme To see myself, to set the darkness echoing’, and there were smiles and nods around the table. We decided that whatever the poet meant by these lines, we knew and could share our understanding of them, and that the poem echoed the group’s own personal discoveries brought out of the darkness. The poems had expressed for the group the experience of digging up these buried memories, and delighted them.
For more ‘wow moments’ and testimonials about the impact of Get Into Reading from group members themselves, visit our website.